Recently I have meditated on the power of forgiveness available to those of us in recovery. My thinking was sparked by a letter I received through the alt.recovery.codependency newsgroup. In particular, these words struck deep in my heart:

"Forgiveness is a natural process that occurs when you have reached a certain stage of acceptance about another person's limitations, character flaws, and their incapacity to behave in a way you had hoped and expected. When you get some glimmer that it was impossible for that person to respect and honor you in the way you wanted, you can forgive them for not having that ability."

For so long, I was bitter toward my ex-wife and her family for the way they treated me during our separation and divorce. I resented them taking away the privilege of seeing my children on a daily basis. I detested them for taking the stance that they were so right and I was so wrong. I despised them for the one-sided and narrow-minded myopia they displayed when I asked to be forgiven. I resented how they turned their back on me and have ignored me for the past five years—though they claim to be Christians. No matter what I did, I could not earn their forgiveness.

Yet, I was unable and unwilling to forgive them as well.

Oh, yes, I thought I had forgiven them—until I caught myself the other day—actually grinding my teeth at the mere thought of how my ex-wife used to treat me.

I still have much recovery work to do!

But I also realized that my wife and her family have a basic incapacity to behave in the way I expect them to behave. I used to think they were unwilling. But now, I see their incapacity to truly forgive, to really love, and to be honestly open-minded.

And it's not their fault. They are just products of their environment and training and their choices.

They can't do any better, because they don't know any better.

Oh, they may have intellectual knowledge of what forgiveness and love are about—but they can't live it when the opportunity arises.

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I, on the other hand, am also incapable of understanding deep in my heart and soul, how hurt they were by my behavior. How much they are still hurting - whether by choice or not. I cannot live up to their expectations, either.

But recovery has taught me that I can (and must) forgive them for their incapacity to forgive. That is very powerful stuff. So powerful that it has raised me to a totally new level of awareness and perspective on life and relationships.

I can also forgive myself for my incapacity to forget how I was treated. I can forgive myself for expecting too much of them.

So, what I am now impelled to develop is my capacity to forgive my ex-wife and her family—to overlook what appeared to me as simple-minded, intransigent, stubbornness.

I must develop this same power in all my relationships. The capacity to forgive others for not living up to my expectations. And, the capacity to forgive myself for expecting others to live up to my expectations.

Thank You, God for the power of forgiveness. Thank You for the power You have given me to forgive and be forgiven. Thank You for bringing me a few steps closer to heartfelt forgiveness of myself, as well as others. Amen.

next: Morning Meditation

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 10). Forgiveness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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